Advocates Ask Legislature for Drug Treatment Programs

04/01/02 12:00AM



(Host) Recovering substance abusers and their advocates came to the Statehouse today to urge lawmakers to create more treatment and recovery programs for addicts.

Pablo Diaz says he arrived in Vermont from New York City 18 months ago. Diaz says he's shocked by the lack of awareness about the state's heroin problem. He says the two-week treatment programs available in Vermont don't work for heroin addicts:

(Diaz) "Heroin is the main epidemic up here. And the short-term programs that are in place for the long-term, hardcore user of heroin is not working. You can't give a hardcore, long-term user a short-term program. You can't. It won't work."

(Host) Diaz said without halfway houses and residential programs, addicts find themselves back on the street after treatment and many return to drug use.

Ken Libertoff of the Vermont Association for Mental Health says he's encouraged by the attention the issue of substance abuse is getting in the legislature this year:

(Libertoff) "I think this is the first year that the Legislature has begun to really seriously examine and discuss and hopefully resolve some important issues about alcohol and substance abuse problems in this state. And I think they're coming to realize that it's not simply the headline stories of tragedy of losing young people in this state to heroin and cocaine and other drugs, but the pervasiveness of this problem and the lack of response so far."

(Host) Liebertoff says in spite of current budget problems, he's optimistic more money will be made available for prevention, treatment and recovery programs.
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